Quick-thinking Colin hailed a hero after tackling Banner blaze

BRAVE warehouse supervisor Colin Bridewell is a real hero to his workmates. He has been praised by his bosses and firefighters, after his fast action and quick thinking stopped a blaze which could have put lives at risk and destroyed the firm’s entire warehouse and £450,000 of stock.

Modest Mr Bridewell said he ‘acted without worrying about the danger’ when he leapt into action at the company, where he has worked for 17 years.

“I didn’t give it much thought, I just grabbed the fire extinguisher and ran,” said the 49-year-old.

He leapt into action after an electrical fire broke out in an overhead light fitting in the warehouse at Banner, the school and sports equipment manufacturer on Kennet Way, Trowbridge.

“One of the pickers came running down shouting ‘fire’, and although it was nearly the end of the shift I knew there were still staff working in the warehouse and the offices.

“I could see the fire, and realised it could easily spread to the racks of stock on the level above. Our stock is all wrapped in plastic and the flames were already licking up.

“I grabbed the fire extinguisher, ran down the row and used it. When that one ran out I came back, went up the stairs and sprayed it again until it was out.”

Mr Bridewell, who was born and brought up in Devizes, attending Southbroom Infants and Devizes School, went to work for the firm, then Blue Max which was based on Caen Hill, Devizes, after leaving the RAF after 10 year’s service.

“I couldn’t believe he acted so fast, I couldn’t have done that,” said warehouse manager Debbie Shorrocks, 54, who played her own part in the drama by setting off the fire alarm to evacuate staff to safety, making sure a 999 call had been made and then marshalling staff outside – as it was the end of the day, some people had already left and it was vital to know who was still in the building.

“He was my hero for about a week. I was shaking when I was outside, and when I got home. I remember shouting at him to be careful,” she added.

Although Mr Bridewell and his colleagues were reluctant to put a figure on the total cost to the firm if the fire had spread, Trowbridge fire station’s watch manager Neil Hiscock was in no doubt his fast action, and sharp thinking in using the correct type of extinguisher, had saved the factory from ruin.

“He had basically prevented the items stored above from catching fire. It would have been a much more serious incident the whole warehouse could have gone up and he caught it early and correctly,” he said.

Mr Bridewell acted so fast by the time the brigade got there they were able to cancel other appliances which were also on their way, triggered by a potential major incident.

Banner’s group operations director Bruce Freeland said: “The way in which the fire was tackled by Colin was a credit to him.

“He quickly tackled the fire. Even though the fire was very small it took two extinguishers to put it out.

“The company electrician attended and along with the fire brigade confirmed that it was a light ballast that had failed, this was very unusual.”

This is Wiltshire

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